Monday, August 07, 2006

Comfort Foods

It's Monday, which means that it's Dinner With My Parents night. This is a relatively new tradition around my house--something we started about 7 years ago when my parents moved back to Utah after living away for something like 22 years. My mom, especially, missed having kids and grandkids living nearby, so when they wandered home again at age 70-something, Mom started inviting me and my kids over for dinner once a week. We don't make it every week. Life does tend to get in the way at times, but we go often enough to keep my mother happy. She called me yesterday to make sure we were coming because she's making my favorite meal ever, her Spaghetti and Meatballs using fresh tomatoes straight out of the garden. I do like spaghetti. A lot. But I rarely order it when I'm eating out. No matter where I go, it never comes up to snuff -- and to paraphrase Adrian Monk, for me it has to be, you know, snuff. SpaghettiSo it's not just spaghetti I like, it's my mom's spaghetti. Bread soaked in water. Parmesan cheese in the meatballs. Just the right amount of each spice. Ground beef, no sausage and, for the record, never, ever, EVER made with ground turkey. She's tried that. 'Nuff said. My mom's spaghetti always makes me feel warm and safe and just a little bit special, and I guess that's what makes comfort food comforting. Mom's spaghetti and meatballs tops my list of comfort foods, but her potato salad and fried chicken is right up there near the top of the list. That's what she made every year the night before we started out on our vacation, and we always stopped midway between Montana and Utah to eat it. Fried chicken and potato salad in the middle of Yellowstone National Park is one of my favorite childhood memories. And then there are mashed peaches with graham crackers. Peaches put into the blender and whirred until smooth -- the only breakfast my mom could get me to eat when I was a teenager. Though now I find that I function much better if I have protein at breakfast (something I'm afraid that Mom always knew) I still find that there are days when nothing else will do. I'm sure there are more things I could name, like her apple dumplings, but it's almost time to leave and I can hear those meatballs calling my name. A big shout out to my mom's cooking!